Why Identifying High Intelligence Might Change Everything

Flowers in Front Yard

A bit of background to start. Early in September of 2008, our twin girls were five, and had just started kindergarten. What we had imagined for years would be a time of great joy in our house – a leap forward with two kids now in full-day school – was a time of immense anxiety and stress. Based on recommendations from the school (the principal called me on day three), we were scrambling to get paperwork done for the GT testing deadline for our school district, which was due the third week in September for the next fall. We had essentially already written off the kindergarten year, since our neighborhood school did not have any space to move them up to first grade. We got the testing completed, applied them to the full-time GT program, and they were accepted a few months later.

The girls started the GT program in the fall of 2009, and our son enrolled early access in the fall of 2010. The next few years were a blur of grade-skipping, teacher meetings, more testing, and part-time homeschooling. By the fall of 2013, we were full-time homeschooling all three kids.

Why does high intelligence – and the intensities that come with it – matter? What would we have done differently had we known more in 2008?

For starters, we would not have automatically enrolled our kids in school. The enormous amount of energy we spent trying to get them in the right spot in school, the right “fit” for them, we would have channeled instead into teaching them at home, at their own pace. Identifying their high intelligence and intensities earlier would have led us down a different path from the start. Part of that energy was spent shifting expectations – from the infant, toddler, and preschool years where we had every expectation that they would be with us full-time during the day – to the “school” years, during which we thought they would be gone for most of the day. Redirection takes more energy.

Second, we would have focused more on learning about intensities, and teaching our kids about their own intensities, from a young age. Understanding why we, as a family and individuals, act the way we do has been invaluable in navigating the world around us, and accepting ourselves for who we are, and who we are not. Once we started homeschooling, we found our acquired knowledge extremely helpful in navigating the teaching experience. Facilitating learning for intense individuals is different, and we have approached it in a way that allows them to utilize their intellect, emotions, energy, senses and imagination as they see fit.

Third, we would have sought out meaningful connections with other high intelligence families sooner. Whether through social media, internet sites, organizations, or conferences, we have gained significant insight, compassion, and direction from the connections and information available. As parents, we have enjoyed meeting those whose experiences are similar to our own. The shared experiences help us sort out what might be innate, developmental, or truly unusual, and we can address issues in the context of a true peer group, instead of comparing our kids to an ill-defined norm.

What would we have done differently in 2008, given the knowledge we have gained today? Likely, we would have made different decisions. Or – perhaps – we would have made the same decisions, and ended up in the same place. Those decisions, however, would have been made with better information, and in a more thoughtful, proactive way, instead of reacting to each situation. Here’s hoping that we can pay it forward to another family – the knowledge that identifying high intelligence and intensities does matter. It might just change everything for you, too.

This post is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum September 15th, 2014 Blog Hop: “Giftedness: Why Does It Matter?

Check out the other posts here! http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blog-hops/giftedness-why-matters/

GHF Blog Hop Sept 2014

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jade Rivera on September 15, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    It’s so important for people to share their “If I knew then…” stories as they relate to giftedness. You’re modeling growth, thank you.

    Reply

  2. “We had essentially already written off the kindergarten year, since our neighborhood school did not have any space to move them up to first grade.”

    That was us last year, but we did not have the option for a GT program in our state and now we are homeschooling. It’s interesting to look back and see whether choices would have been made differently. I agree that learning about intensities, worrying less about school fit, and finding a village of families going through the same would have made those first years easier.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

  3. I love this for so many reasons. We are also homeschooling unexpectedly – and your point about redirection taking more energy really hit home. Thank you so much for this post!

    Reply

  4. True! Gifted identification does matter and my family also went through some unnecessary rough times because we did not identify our sons’ giftedness sooner! Thank you for emphasizing the importance of gifted identification and paying it forward!

    Reply

  5. Thank you for sharing I think most people do the best they can with the information and resources available at the time; so the more information we have the more likely we are to be able to make good decisions

    Reply

  6. […] Why Identifying High Intelligence Might Change Everything ~ Chasing Hollyfeld (Kathy Mayer) “Understanding why we, as a family and individuals, act the way we do has been invaluable in navigating the world around us, and accepting ourselves for who we are, and who we are not. Facilitating learning for intense individuals is different, and we have approached it in a way that allows them to utilize their intellect, emotions, energy, senses and imagination as they see fit.” […]

    Reply

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